Tuesday, April 04, 2017

More vague worries

One of my early-morning things is to glance at The Chronicle of Higher Education (Well, at least what isn't "premium content," which requires a subscription, which my uni probably has but I've never asked for the login).

Anyway, this article, about the announcement of the closure of a small private Catholic college, struck me.

For one thing: the "gathering in the chapel." The last time I experienced something like that, it was in high school - some of you know I attended Western Reserve Academy, and we used to have Morning Meeting.

And, heh, it was on my mind with the Opening Day of baseball, because one year, many years ago, we were granted a rare Free Day on Opening Day. (Because the Headmaster at the time was a big baseball fan, I *think* the Red Sox were his team if I remember right....)

(Free Day was a tradition: we'd go to Morning Meeting like normal, and then, at some point during the meeting, the headmaster or someone else in authority would get up and announce it. There would be cheers from the students, and whatever Activities had been planned - usually trips somewhere - would be announced. The joy of Free Days was that they were pretty well kept a secret, so we never knew if or when one was coming. I don't think there was one every year, and one year there might have been two?....but anyway, it was one of the rare pleasant surprises in life.)

Anyway. Something totally different went down at St. Joseph's. (I suppose the boxes of tissues in the pews should have been a tip off). But what an awful, awful thing. I wonder if people knew, if rumors had been flying. "Counseling services will be available afterward" was the ominous opening line of the article...

And I confess, in the gloomy mood I've been in the past few days over the state of my state's finances (the "rainy day fund" was raided, apparently without some legislators' knowledge, recently - it's now empty, though it's claimed the income-tax revenue will re-fill it), I wonder:

would counseling services be provided us in a similar situation? Sometimes I feel like the well-being of faculty is not....considered....as much here as at some smaller schools (And of course, we're not a religious school). What would I do? Would I cry? throw up? (I've been close in situations of really shocking bad news; I nearly threw up when a close family member informed me he had cancer).

I don't want to find out. I hope I don't find out but I don't know.

(Edited to add: Actually, I probably do know, given my reaction last year to the furlough days/ firing of my untenured colleague: I'd cry. I had a spectacularly ugly cry and haver at my chair after all of it went down. Because I couldn't process it. Maybe if it happened again I'd process it better having had over a year to live with the possibility in my head that I might be some day unemployed, and not because I made one of the spectacularly boneheaded and stupid mistakes tenured profs make - the kind of mistakes I am far too circumspect to make [e.g., having an affair with a student]. I cried more last year than I have in a very long time, though.... not just over what was going on at work, but just in general. I feel kind of....still in pieces....after last year. And there isn't Gorilla Glue for a person's spirit.)

I haven't HEARD anything. I wish our uni president would come out with some kind of message, either a "hey, everything's OK for now, the retirements we had last year are letting us weather this" or a "we're gonna have to brace for more cuts." I deal better with bad news than I do with uncertainty. 

I also find myself idly wondering what I'd do if I were let go. Friends tell me, "Oh, you're such a responsible person and so talented, anyone would hire you!" but I don't know. There honestly aren't that many jobs around here; most of them are pretty low-paying and while I could manage with that for a while, eventually I'd run through my savings every time something broke.

I've talked about "learning to deal blackjack and working at a casino" because honestly, the casinos are the only places that seem to have money. But I'm not sure I'd be suited to that....I don't deal well with difficult people, or drunks, or demanding people.

If it weren't so miserably paid for what you sometimes wind up having to do, I'd do home-health. No, I'm not a nurse, but a lot of those home-health places you don't have to be an RN, or, you can get an LPN or the like quickly from a career center. But the problem is those kinds of jobs tend to pay poorly, I know I'd react badly if I got to be good friends with someone I cared for and they died, and I'd hate getting that one really nasty prickly person who was always cranky to me.

I don't know. I don't want to move: most other parts of the country, I suspect what work I would find would require me to live in an apartment with at least one roommate and I just.....I can't. I can't live with a stranger at this point in my life. And making my house ready to sell, other than going through one of the rock-bottom "as is" places just makes me sad - the idea of painting the interior of a house I was leaving, of fixing stuff that I lived with broken for so long - and even then probably not getting much profit out of it.

I don't know what I'd do. I don't have a lot of skills outside of "teaching," to be honest, and there are so few jobs here....I suppose there's stuff I'm not seeing, and I'm still strong enough that I could do some work that had some physical component to it. But I wouldn't want to try to start a small business because that just seems to be a way to go broke really fast, and as much as I have vague dreams of having an apiary or raising alpacas, I honestly don't know HOW and I would need something that would start earning me money to live on quickly.

I confess, I'm kind of left with the idea of "if everything hit the fan, and we closed down, I'd just move back in with my parents." Yes, Illinois is in even worse financial straits than we are, I think, but they also seem to have  a more diverse base of private businesses, and maybe, I don't know, a quilt shop would hire me or something. And if I lived with my parents I wouldn't need a "covers every last thing" paycheck - I could just kick in for my share of utilities and food.

I hope it doesn't come to that, though. But things look kind of bleak right here right now. The sad thing is, we've had so many students who have gone on to better-paying jobs than they would have had otherwise because of the campus being here.....

THEN AGAIN: I am probably worrying excessively; there have been a few jobs posted here (I mean: for on my campus, for the coming fall) and they are for what look to be tenure-track jobs (Assistant/Associate professor) in a couple of departments.....so maybe we're managing OK. I hope. 

1 comment:

purlewe said...

I will admit I didn't know which school until I just read your link.

What a heartbreaking blow to the community of Rensselaer. I lived not far from there. I know people who grew up there. It isn't a big place. This will likely empty the town.

I worry all the time about things like this. There are no safety nets these days. It is stomach churning.